Today we’re talking to Mark Ord, the founder of All Points East; with a goal of producing unusual, original and quality trips at reasonable prices with an emphasis on off the beaten track destinations and eco-tourism and a commitment to responsible travel. One of our primary goals at Oh Hey World is to connect like-minded people with each other. Being a co-founder of a tech company in the travel industry, one of my personal interests is learning more about other entrepreneurs building travel companies.
Without further adieu…
1) What do you do?
Run a tour company specialising in travel in Southeast Asia. Set up All Points East, (formerly Gecko Travel), with my sister back in 1999 and she runs the UK office and I try my best to organize things at the Southeast Asia end from my base in Chiang Mai. If we get any quiet periods I also do some free-lance travel writing and photography.
2) Why do you do what you do?
Simple really; love travel and love Southeast Asia so my job allows me to live and travel out here. Mind you the more business improves the more time I seem to spend sitting in front of a computer in an office rather than travelling however having said that the nature of the work means my ‘office’ can be anywhere with an internet and phone connection. So I get to work out of some pretty exotic temporary ‘offices’: Saigon coffee shops or Thai beach resorts for example, so not complaining!
3) What are you most excited about right now?
Firstly the opening up of new areas of Southeast Asia to travel. New roads are allowing access to previously remote areas and border restrictions are being relaxed. Burma’s opening up fast for instance. Also excited and heartened to see some continued improvements in eco awareness and what appear to be genuine efforts at protecting the natural environment in various countries in the region. There’s obviously a long way to go but recent efforts in Borneo/Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia for example seem to be heading in the right direction. Maybe I’m over optimistic but there does seem to be an increased awareness of the long term value of protecting natural areas over short term gain of logging or say oil plantations plus it’s easy to do the maths and look at the cost incurred from natural disasters such as flooding caused by deforestation.
4) What’s next for you?
I’m checking out some trekking routes in new areas of Burma’s Shan State since the Burmese have recently opened up several land crossings for visitors plus researching northern Cambodia where new road construction has opened up huge swathes of the country with masses of previously little known ancient temple sites.
5) What’s a cause you’re passionate about and why?
Environmental protection, though at the end of the day, that is very closely tied in with my business anyway as is development in the poorer countries of the region such as Burma, Laos and Cambodia. Causes close to me heart tend to be Southeast Asian issues since this is where I lived for some 15 years and travel is such a wide subject that inevitably any political, environmental, social and economic developments in the area have an implication of some kind for travel and tourism.
If you’re keen to connect with Mark further, you can find his current location on his OHW profile. A big thanks to Mark for sharing his motivations and current projects. If you’d like to connect on social media with Valentin:
We’ll be featuring a number of other travel entrepreneurs in the coming weeks. If you are an entrepreneur in the travel vertical, and want to be profiled, please sign up for an OHW account and add “travel entrepreneurs” as an interest on your profile — then shoot me an email (drew at ohheyworld).